mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Abstract And Brief”: Conservatives Argue For A GOP Platform Vague And Minimalist Enough To Accommodate Trump

For a political party known until quite recently for its virtually unanimous support for the dictates of conservative ideology, the GOP has got some shockingly large divisions on issues today, thanks to Donald Trump. His speech earlier this week on trade is an example: There is no way to identify a single inch of common ground between Trump’s attacks on globalization as the source of all evil and the views of the Republican-leaning U.S. business community (see this angry op-ed by U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donahue). Slightly less heated but still important are Trump-GOP differences over social security and Medicare, treated by Trump as part of an inviolable social contract and by most Republicans as sacred cows that need to be slaughtered to bring federal spending under control. Immigration, of course, has created its own well-known intra-party fault lines. And there’s trouble all over the national-security landscape, beginning with Trump’s skepticism about NATO and his non-interventionist instincts, in a party where there’s a lot of lusty desire for Middle Eastern wars or maybe a nostalgic dustup with Russia.

All these divisions make the drafting and adoption of a party platform — normally a chore so routine and boring you don’t even hear about it beyond marginal arguments over the precise language of planks on abortion or guns — perilous. It would be natural for Team Trump to want to place the mogul’s personal stamp on the party’s statement of principles and proposals. And it would be tempting for those resisting Trump’s takeover of the GOP to start a platform fight at the convention.

How to avoid trouble? Well, two distinguished conservatives (one the president of Hillsdale College, the other a member of the actual platform committee) writing at the Washington Examiner have an idea: Make the platform so abstract and brief that none of the divisions even appear.

That’s not exactly how they put it, of course. Check out this lofty appeal:

On the eve of a convention that threatens disorder, Republicans should learn from the greatness of their party’s past.

The platform upon which Abraham Lincoln ran for president in 1860 was one and a half pages and 1200 words — quite a contrast to the 65 page, 33,000 word GOP platform of 2012. Written in the succinct and beautiful language of principle, it was meant to be read by all Americans, not just policy elites, and to guide great political action rather than make promises to special interests.

Might such a document today help to heal the divisions in the party as a preparation to healing those in the nation?

You betcha. The platform these gentlemen have in mind would focus strictly on the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and the need for limited instead of expanded government. It would view America and its problems from such a great distance that you can’t see those messy differences over the actual issues that will confront the next president and Congress. Hell, it would be broad enough and vague enough to accommodate Trumpism!

The Trump candidacy, although unwelcome to many in the party, has the virtue of simplicity. He says that government belongs to, must respond to, and must in all cases seek to benefit the American people.

Every politician in either party would affirm the same principle, of course, but the whole idea here is not to get bogged down in details.

The devil, of course, is in the details. But platforms should not be about details. They should be about principles and broad lines of policy. The details will be worked out in due course between the President and Congress, as is right and good. The platform supplies a direction, not a specific route.

Or perhaps the platform is just a collection of platitudes supplying the directive that the future lies ahead.

Maybe that’s all a party can do when it is nominating a presidential candidate that so many of its leading members regard with ill-disguised fear and loathing. It’s so much easier to talk about the platform from a rarefied perspective so distant from the actual country with its actual challenges and choices.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 1, 2016

July 2, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Last Berniebro?”: Sanders Runs The Risk Of Waiting Too Long, To The Point Where It No Longer Matters

“I’ve got this thing,” said the politician on a secretly recorded phone call, “and it’s f-ing golden. And I’m just not giving it up for f-ing nothing.”

That politician, as you probably remember, was Rod Blagojevich, then the the governor of Illinois, and the thing in question was the appointment to temporarily fill the Senate seat of Barack Obama, who was headed to the White House. But Blagojevich’s colorful sentiment could apply equally well to the way Bernie Sanders seems to think about his endorsement in this year’s presidential race. It’s golden, a precious jewel he has secured in a safe whose lock can only be sprung by one who has shown herself to be pure of heart, or at least one who has paid sufficient attention to Sanders and performed the proper rituals of supplication. Then and only then will the endorsement be presented, perhaps on a velvet pillow of deepest blue, with gold piping around the edges, all nestled in a handcrafted mahogany box. He’s not giving it up for nothing.

But what Sanders may not realize is that by the time he’s finally ready to hand over that endorsement, very few people are likely to care. He surely calculated that he would lose something if he endorsed Hillary Clinton too quickly, without getting something in return. But now he runs the risk of waiting too long, to the point where it no longer matters.

Appearing Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Sanders waved away the idea that he was ready to endorse Clinton. And as for his supporters, “What we are doing is trying to say to the Clinton campaign, stand up, be bolder than you have been. And then many of those voters in fact may come on board.”

It’s unsurprising that there are holdouts among Sanders’s supporters, even as Donald Trump’s unique brand of horrifying buffoonery makes the stakes of the election clearer with each passing day. For a year now, they’ve been told not that their candidate is the best of a collection of reasonable options, but that they’re part of a revolution against a deeply corrupt establishment, embodied in the person of Hillary Clinton. To now ask them to make a pragmatic choice in favor of Clinton almost seems like a betrayal of everything they signed up for, no matter how ghastly the alternative to a Clinton victory is.

Yet that’s exactly the choice they’re making—and with little help from Sanders himself. In a new Washington Post poll, the number of Sanders supporters saying they’ll vote for Trump in the general election is at 8 percent, down from 20 percent just a month ago. “What’s more, the 81 percent of Sanders backers who are now behind Clinton is a higher number than in any poll of 2008 Clinton backers who rallied to Obama,” the Post writes.

This poll could be an anomaly; maybe it’s understating the degree to which Sanders supporters are going to withhold their support from Clinton. But on the other hand, maybe Sanders supporters as a group aren’t quite the doctrinaire revolutionaries we thought they were. Could it be that the passionate intensity (and, sometimes, outright douchebaggery) of a small number of Berniebros who make so much noise in social media convinced us that they were representative of Sanders supporters when they actually weren’t? Might it be that your typical Sanders supporter is a liberal Democrat who was attracted to Sanders’ ideas, but is also perfectly willing to vote for Clinton even if she wasn’t their first choice?

And might it be that it doesn’t really matter to them whether and when Bernie Sanders says the words “I endorse Hillary Clinton”?

One of the things Sanders had been holding out for was the writing of the Democratic Party platform, which he hoped would represent his views. The platform committee has finished working on the draft of the platform, and it looks to be the most progressive one the party has ever written, including calling for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment forbidding federal funds from going to abortions, a $15 an hour minimum wage, an expansion of Social Security, and the elimination of the death penalty. But because Sanders didn’t get absolutely every last thing he wanted (it’s almost as if somebody else won the party’s primaries!), he now cites the platform as another reason he can’t yet give Clinton his endorsement.

Not that too many people will actually read it (or that Clinton, if she becomes president, will be bound by it one way or the other), but I’m pretty sure that if most Sanders voters looked at the platform, they’d say, “Gee, that all sounds pretty good.” Nevertheless, there will be that vocal few who say it’s yet more evidence that anyone who supports Clinton is a Wall Street stooge. Liberal hero Elizabeth Warren got that reaction from an angry few when she endorsed Clinton, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Sanders himself, whenever he finally does make his endorsement, will hear that he has sold out his own revolution.

But how many Sanders supporters are there who won’t decide to vote for Clinton until Bernie says it’s OK to do so? The number gets smaller every day. And if he waits long enough, he could find that almost none of them are still waiting with him.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, June 27, 2016

June 30, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Bros, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Is Losing The Election Part Of Trump’s Plan?”: The Republican Party Has Provided The Vehicle For Trump’s Joy Ride

What’s Donald Trump really up to? Is he using the election of 2016 to enrich himself, with no intention of assuming the burdens of the presidency? Many wonder. If that’s the plan, he’s going about it the right way.

This may sound like political science fiction, but think. Success in such terms would entail two things: commanding maximum public attention and offending vast numbers of voters he would need to actually get elected. That’s what he’s been doing.

The two work together.

Vanity Fair reported speculation that the Trump endgame may involve establishing a family-run “mini-media conglomerate” — a kind of CNN or Fox News. Trump is already a media phenomenon with an enthusiastic audience. His campaign, meanwhile, has been featuring his wife, his children and a son-in-law as prominent co-stars.

The article said that Trump is sore about providing so much free content to the aforementioned media outlets without his getting a cut of the profits. (So much free airtime would be a source of joy for the conventional politician seeing election as the goal.)

Trump already controls a TV production company. Making the leap to Trump News Network, or whatever it might be called, would not seem so outlandish. The bigger the audience Trump builds dominating the news cycles, the more advertisers will pay for his product. And maintaining that high level of attention requires continually saying inflammatory things that turn off the larger electorate.

Suspicions began growing early on that Trump’s candidacy is a brand-building scheme and little more. Recall how every ludicrous thing out of his mouth — mocking John McCain for becoming a prisoner of war, smearing Latinos and savaging fellow Republicans — was deemed a campaign killer. His candidacy had to collapse. But it didn’t. Trump won more and more support from the so-called Republican base despite (or because of) his vulgarity and disregard for conservative principles that were never widely popular to begin with.

When Trump became the presumptive nominee, the political sophisticates assumed he’d clean up his act and behave in a dignified, presidential manner. He’s done neither.

The Republican Party unwittingly created the conditions for a Trump candidacy. Its leaders have sat quietly for decades as a right-wing media — run by personalities flogging their own wares — normalized crazy political rhetoric. They probably figured that come Election Day, they could easily herd the fired-up base to the proper stalls. And they misread its strong support for Social Security, Medicare and other government programs.

That Trump has almost no campaign funds fits the theory he’s not in it to win it. His people insisted he’s never needed that kind of money. His arresting personality would do the job. Then came the sinking poll numbers.

Trump raised $5.4 million last month and spent over a million of it at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, on private jet service provided by his Tag Air and at other family-owned enterprises. He put in $2.2 million of his own money, but that was just a loan.

Trump’s dumping of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski can be interpreted as a logical response to evidence that he’s wearing thin among likely voters. But there’s no taking anything at face value in the Trumpian house of funny mirrors. It may reflect the family’s concern that it’s losing audience share.

The Republican Party has provided the vehicle for Trump’s joy ride. If at the end he returns a smoking wreck to the counter, not his problem. He’ll be fine, he keeps telling us.

For party leaders, another story. They will need much time for reflection, starting with how they got so royally set up.

 

By: Froma Harrop; The National Memo, June 23, 2016

June 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trump Is Performing A Kind Of Straddle-Pander”: Why Donald Trump Is Happily Uttering Conservative Heresies

Reince Priebus, the long-suffering chairman of the Republican National Committee, has now resorted to pleading with Donald Trump not to rewrite the party’s platform. “All that anxiety, just take it off the table,” Priebus said on a radio show Monday. “Tell people that, that you don’t want to rewrite, you appreciate and agree with the platform the way it is.” I’m sure Trump will oblige, since it’s not like he cares one way or another what’s contained in some document he’s never going to bother to read, let alone feel bound by. Meanwhile, Trump will continue to utter heresies against conservative dogma whenever the mood strikes him.

So it was that on Sunday, Trump not only said that taxes for the wealthy might go up when he’s president, but came out as minimum wage increase-curious. Don’t wait for him to actually advocate an increase in the federal minimum, though. Appearing on Meet the Press on Sunday, Trump expressed both support and opposition to an increase. “I don’t know how people make it on $7.25 an hour,” he said. “I would like to see an increase of some magnitude. But I’d rather leave it to the states. Let the states decide.”

The fact that Trump didn’t actually advocate an increase will be little comfort to Republicans watching him trod all over their cherished beliefs. Because even if he didn’t say the federal minimum should be raised, he expressed support for the idea that $7.25 an hour isn’t enough to live on, even if you aren’t in the market for solid gold toilets and faux-Versailles furnishings. That cuts against the rhetorical underpinnings of Republican opposition to an increase, which include the ideas that minimum wage jobs are only held by teenagers anyway, and the government shouldn’t be saying what is and isn’t enough for anyone to live on. Worst of all, Trump expressed sympathy for the working poor and entertained the idea that government should help them.

Saying “Let the states decide” provides no ideological safe harbor — though Trump probably doesn’t understand this. The truth is that despite their rhetoric about federalism, Republicans — just like Democrats — are fans of federal power when the federal government is doing something they want, and fans of state power when the states are doing something they want. Republicans want states to be able to slash Medicaid benefits, but don’t like it when states legalize marijuana. They talk about how the best government is closest to the people, but when a local government passes a non-discrimination ordinance or increases its minimum wage, they’ll pass a preemption law forbidding any local government in the state from creating a more liberal environment than the Republican legislature wants.

So once again, because Trump didn’t rise up through the political system and because he just doesn’t care all that much about issues, he doesn’t have a firm grasp on the combination of moral and practical arguments that provide the foundation for the conservative position on the issue at hand. It isn’t just that he doesn’t get what he’s supposed to believe, it’s that he doesn’t get why he’s supposed to believe it.

And truth be told, Republicans would rather not talk about the minimum wage at all, since this is one of the most unpopular positions they hold. Polls regularly show 70 percent of the public supporting an increase. That’s the biggest reason Democrats always bring the topic up, but it’s also an economic policy that’s simple to understand, and one where government can have a direct and immediate effect on people’s lives.

Unlike other proposals candidates might make, a minimum wage isn’t something you’d have to wait for. It’s not like the tax cuts Republicans say will eventually trickle down to ordinary people, and it’s not like the infrastructure investments Democrats say will produce more sustained economic growth in the long run. Everyone knows what it means to get a raise.

So Trump is performing a kind of straddle-pander, trying to show he’s on the right side of the issue while not actually taking a position in opposition to his party. But this comes at a time when those favoring an increase in the minimum are on the offensive. California and New York have recently passed laws hiking the minimum to $15 an hour (phased in over a period of years), and multiple states will have increases on their ballots in November. Chances are most or all of those measures will succeed (minimum wage initiatives usually do), and Republicans will be even more eager to change the subject.

Conservatives will take Trump’s squishiness on this issue as yet more proof that he isn’t a true conservative, and they’ll be right. But he also seems to have an intuitive sense, at least some of the time, of what people want to hear. Despite all the voters he’s alienated by taking Republican ideas and cranking them up to 11, Trump has also rejected some of the most unpopular positions his party has, on things like cutting Social Security or defunding Planned Parenthood.

That doesn’t mean voters will buy that he’s some kind of man of the people. But by speaking favorably about a higher minimum wage, Trump is once again making the rest of his party look bad.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect;  Contributor, The Week, May 10, 2016

May 12, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Reince Priebus, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Making Of An Ignoramus”: Making America Great Again Means Running The Country Like A Failing Casino

Truly, Donald Trump knows nothing. He is more ignorant about policy than you can possibly imagine, even when you take into account the fact that he is more ignorant than you can possibly imagine. But his ignorance isn’t as unique as it may seem: In many ways, he’s just doing a clumsy job of channeling nonsense widely popular in his party, and to some extent in the chattering classes more generally.

Last week the presumptive Republican presidential nominee — hard to believe, but there it is — finally revealed his plan to make America great again. Basically, it involves running the country like a failing casino: he could, he asserted, “make a deal” with creditors that would reduce the debt burden if his outlandish promises of economic growth don’t work out.

The reaction from everyone who knows anything about finance or economics was a mix of amazed horror and horrified amazement. One does not casually suggest throwing away America’s carefully cultivated reputation as the world’s most scrupulous debtor — a reputation that dates all the way back to Alexander Hamilton.

The Trump solution would, among other things, deprive the world economy of its most crucial safe asset, U.S. debt, at a time when safe assets are already in short supply.

Of course, we can be sure that Mr. Trump knows none of this, and nobody in his entourage is likely to tell him. But before we simply ridicule him — or, actually, at the same time that we’re ridiculing him — let’s ask where his bad ideas really come from.

First of all, Mr. Trump obviously believes that America could easily find itself facing a debt crisis. But why? After all, investors, who are willing to lend to America at incredibly low interest rates, are evidently not worried by our debt. And there’s good reason for their calmness: federal interest payments are only 1.3 percent of G.D.P., or 6 percent of total outlays.

These numbers mean both that the burden of the debt is fairly small and that even complete repudiation of that debt would have only a minor impact on the government’s cash flow.

So why is Mr. Trump even talking about this subject? Well, one possible answer is that lots of supposedly serious people have been hyping the alleged threat posed by federal debt for years. For example, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, has warned repeatedly about a “looming debt crisis.” Indeed, until not long ago the whole Beltway elite seemed to be in the grip of BowlesSimpsonism, with its assertion that debt was the greatest threat facing the nation.

A lot of this debt hysteria was really about trying to bully us into cutting Social Security and Medicare, which is why so many self-proclaimed fiscal hawks were also eager to cut taxes on the rich. But Mr. Trump apparently wasn’t in on that particular con, and takes the phony debt scare seriously. Sad!

Still, even if he misunderstands the fiscal situation, how can he imagine that it would be O.K. for America to default? One answer is that he’s extrapolating from his own business career, in which he has done very well by running up debts, then walking away from them.

But it’s also true that much of the Republican Party shares his insouciance about default. Remember, the party’s congressional wing deliberately set about extracting concessions from President Obama, using the threat of gratuitous default via a refusal to raise the debt ceiling.

And quite a few Republican lawmakers defended that strategy of extortion by arguing that default wouldn’t be that bad, that even with its access to funds cut off the U.S. government could “prioritize” payments, and that the financial disruption would be no big deal.

Given that history, it’s not too hard to understand why candidate Trump thinks not paying debts in full makes sense.

The important thing to realize, then, is that when Mr. Trump talks nonsense, he’s usually just offering a bombastic version of a position that’s widespread in his party. In fact, it’s remarkable how many ridiculous Trumpisms were previously espoused by Mitt Romney in 2012, from his claim that the true unemployment rate vastly exceeds official figures to his claim that he can bring prosperity by starting a trade war with China.

None of this should be taken as an excuse for Mr. Trump. He really is frighteningly uninformed; worse, he doesn’t appear to know what he doesn’t know. The point, instead, is that his blithe lack of knowledge largely follows from the know-nothing attitudes of the party he now leads.

Oh, and just for the record: No, it’s not the same on the other side of the aisle. You may dislike Hillary Clinton, you may disagree sharply with her policies, but she and the people around her do know their facts. Nobody has a monopoly on wisdom, but in this election, one party has largely cornered the market in raw ignorance.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, May 9, 2016

May 11, 2016 Posted by | Debt Crisis, Donald Trump, Economic Policy | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: